I really do not like these rebate cards that everyone is sending out.

At first blush they would seem to be a good idea (you don’t need to deposit a check) but I think they’re just another way to punish us for using the rebate in the first place.

Of course, the businesses like them because of the branding opportunities for the company offering the rebates as well as the merchant services provider (e.g. Visa.)

My experiences with the dozen or so cards I’ve received has shown:

  • Unless you’re sure you’re going to spend the whole thing, don’t even bother using them.  Otherwise you’ll have a balance, and if you do, you are condemned.
  • If you don’t know the exact balance when you come in with a partially-used card, many stores won’t let you use it.  I mean, to the penny.
  • The websites for checking balances do not work well on mobile devices.
  • If you want to clear your balance, and hand it to the cashier first or split the balance, people behind you in line will scowl.
  • They take up room in my wallet.
  • I’ve had at least two stores unable to process them (Walgreens once, and a gas station I cannot remember.)

Others have complained that

  • Rebate cards lose value over time (as soon as 3 months)
  • Some cards have an “account maintenance fee”
  • Some cards have a fee if you run them through for “more than they have in balance” (becoming a credit card in your name!)
  • You can’t cash them.
  • They lead people into the “credit card” mentality.

Why can’t the rebates just be transferred to my Paypal account, or perhaps to my checking account? Right. That will be the day.